November 17, 2009

The cover from the new Dan Mills book.

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By Tom Evelyn

LEWISBURG, Pa. — What might a new world atlas look like if the United States multiplied?

Dan Mills, director of the Samek Art Gallery at Bucknell University, has imagined such a scenario in his new book, US Future States Atlas, which maps out an imperial march that adds 47 states and a new District of Columbia to the United States' global reach.

While America was debating the merits of military action in Afghanistan and Iraq, Mills began thinking about what the world might look like if the U.S. followed its military capacities to their natural end. The result is a collection of months of drawings that make up the US Future States Atlas (Perceval Press, 2009).

'Global imperialism'
Mills describes the book as "a grand narrative atlas of global imperialism." In Mills' vision, Albania becomes New Albany and Iraq becomes U.S. Arabia, before the U.S. finally becomes the United States Empire, marking a global dominion that challenges the views of America's place in the world.

"Wonderfully ludicrous in its entirety, the project is frightfully credible in its details," Leah Ollman wrote in the Los Angeles Times. "Mills exaggerates to the point of parody opportunistic foreign policy doctrines."

"Mills' subversive project comes across as a 'Colbert Report' segment writ large -- witty and wry and delivered with (mostly) deadpan earnestness," Ollman added in her review of an exhibition based on Mills' book. The exhibition was held earlier this month at the Sherry Frumkin Gallery in Santa Monica, Calif.

Biting satire
"Mills has created a wickedly biting satire of America foreign policy dating back to the days of the Monroe Doctrine and Manifest Destiny," said book reviewer and author Richard Marcus.

"Somalia, Grenada, Panama, Afghanistan and Iraq have all been treated to visits by American armies since the 1980s, while other countries have had to deal with forces armed and funded by various U.S. governments," Marcus added. "Mills' creations are ... visually arresting (and) provide insightful and intelligent commentary on American foreign policy and how truly ridiculous some of the rationale given for those previous actions has been."

Mills, whose work has been exhibited in galleries and museums in Chicago, New York, China and at universities throughout the U.S., has been the director of the Samek Art Gallery at Bucknell since 2001.

Contact: Division of Communications


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